North Texas

Man in Fort Worth Viral Video Goes to Trial for Assault Citation

The neighbor of a Fort Worth mother whose videotaped arrest went viral and fueled racial tensions went on trial Tuesday for allegedly assaulting the woman's 8-year-old son.

Itamar Vardi has pleaded not guilty to assault by contact, a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine and no jail time.

In opening statements, prosecutors said Vardi became enraged on Dec. 21, 2016, when Jacqueline Craig's son was walking home from school and dropped some raisins near his house. Vardi grabbed the boy by the back of the neck, prosecutors said.

Vardi's attorney, Bobbie Edmonds, acknowledged Vardi touched the boy but argued it wasn't a crime because it wasn't done in an offensive or provocative manner.

On the witness stand, the boy, Aairinton Craig, now 9, showed jurors how Vardi grabbed him around the back of the neck and forced him to the ground to pick up the raisins.

"I'm not his kid, so he can't put his hands on me," the boy testified.

The case made international headlines when Jacqueline Craig called 911 to report the alleged assault.

A video showed Fort Worth Police Officer William Martin question the mother about why she didn't teach her son not to litter and suggest it was OK for the neighbor to touch the boy. Martin arrested Craig for outstanding warrants and was suspended.

The incident led to protests and racial strife.

It also led to a shakeup in the top ranks of the department after an investigation over leaks.

The trial continues Wednesday.

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